Saturday, April 19, 2008

To B

You can remark to the mother of children of color that you're worried about the "make up" of a particular neighborhood -- that you think the street might be mostly "black" and are wondering if that means "unsafe" -- but if you do, she will likely be offended. And she will not be being "overly sensitive" when blood rushes to her cheeks.

Note that ultimately she doesn't sweat whether you think the neighborhood is too "black," however much she wishes people didn't think like this anymore. She is a pragmatist, and she believes that she cannot change your mind, what happens between you and you. She will be most disturbed by what you say, by the fact that you have managed to miss that her family is multiracial, decided to wonder "black" and "unsafe" in front of her children, and refuse to understand why she is bothered.


Ariella said...

Sounds like B might be a racist.Seriously who the hell thinks like that these days, let alone SAY something like that? As some one who is considered "white" I am offended and bothered by her thinking.

BTW: I love your blog.

dawn said...

I hear comments with this tone every now and then. A mom will lean in and talk about my son as if we are in some secret club. "I wonder where his mother is" or "where did he wander in from?"

Maddening. Frightening.

Gretchen aka mamagigi said...

Ack. Mind-boggling. Frightening. Depressing. Anger-inducing.

I hope you explained to her, in some creative and inspiring way, that you were, in fact, bothered. (Heck, even in a boring and uninspired way.)

So ... how did you respond?


abebech said...

Gretchen, it did not go well.

The redness in my cheeks spoke for itself, belied my outer calm, and B was furious _that I was angry_ and unable to hear what I was/am saying.

Overwhelmed! said...

What's sad is when these types of comments come from your own family. Point in case:

Knowing full well that we will most likely be adopting a Hispanic child or a child of a different race than ours (we're Caucasian), my SIL had the audacity to tell me that you know a neighborhood is bad if the church in that community has a separate dedicated Spanish mass! She was dead serious.

I chewed her butt up one side and down the other for her remark. Ever since then, she's been very careful about what she says to me and is comically overly affectionate and accepting of our two foster daughters who are Caucasian/Hispanic.

Another example:

When we received a placement call for our oldest foster daughter, with the understanding that it was a foster-to-adopt situation that might well lead to adoption, my MIL asked my husband,

"Are you sure you want to accept this placement? Shouldn't you wait for a child more like Snuggle Bug"

Snuggle Bug is our adopted, CAUCASIAN son. Our foster daughter is part Hispanic.

Simply stated, my husband responded,

"If by that you mean should we wait for a white baby to come along, No. We think this little girl would be perfect for us!"

When will people ever learn?

abebech said...

OW, it is perversely comical to me that one of B's defenses against my (silent -- remember, these were RED CHEEKS!) charge of racism is that he has happily lived in _Hispanic_ neighborhoods before. Oy.